The Malik Report
Red Wings overnight report: extending Pavel Datsyuk is a keystone moment for the Wings going forward
by George Malik on 06/19/13 at 04:24 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings' signing of Pavel Datsyuk to a 3-year contract extension earned the worldwide coverage and almost exultant joy GM Ken Holland (and Datsyuk himself) related to the Wings' press corps and The Fan 590 on Tuesday. Datsyuk remains one of the best players in the world at 35 years of age (see: TSN's Play of the Year showdown, in which Datsyuk dekes through the Nashville Predators), and locking him up until he's 39 (at a pretty damn affordable price, no less) assures that the Wings' "core" will remain intact--allowing the Wings to approach the free agent marketplace with needs other than replacing Datsyuk in a year or two in mind--as Holland told the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:
"It’s a great day,” Holland said after the 35-year-old centre agreed to a three-year contract extension. “He’s a world-class player. We’re all fully aware he’s from Russia and there’s a legitimate league over there that’s an option. Pav made it clear through the years he’s a Red Wing and if he’s not, he’s playing at home.”
As Holland told the Wings' other beat writers, Datsyuk had assured Holland that he wanted to remain in North America throughout the season, and at his exit interview, Datsyuk decided to add three years to the last year of his current contract:
“I had two or three meetings with (Datsyuk’s agent) Gary Greenstin in February-March-April and he reassured me Pav had the intention of staying in North America,” Holland said.
Datsyuk confirmed to Holland 10 days ago during his exit interview that he wanted to sign an extension.
“I thought three years was fair for Pav and the Red Wings,” Holland said. “The next day, Pav indicated he was OK with a three-year extension. I threw out some numbers to Gary Greenstin. Pav and Gary were in my office (Tuesday) morning.”
Holland fully believes that Datsyuk can play dominant hockey into his late 30's...
“Pav has a lot of hockey left in him,” Holland said. “He’s a world-class player We’ve got our core locked up. We’re getting a push from some younger players. It’s nice to know we’re going to training camp not concerned it might be Pav’s last year. Pav’s happy and I’m thrilled.”
With 12 forwards under contract and restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson not going anywhere, Holland also acknowledged that he’d explore trade options and consider utilizing compliance buyouts.
Ditto for the other RFA's, Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl.
“I told (defenceman) Ian White he won’t be re-signed,” Holland said. “I’m talking to (forwards Daniel) Cleary, (Damien) Brunner, and (Valtteri) Filppula. If there’s a term and number that works for us, we’ll try to fit them in. If not, we’ll go in a different direction. We like all these players, but sometimes if there’s a better opportunity elsewhere a player’s got to pursue it.”
Holland sounded similar notes while speaking to the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...
Holland also believes Datsyuk can follow Nicklas Lidstrom, Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios and Dominik Hasek, and be front-line players into their 40s.
“He has a tremendous will to win,” Holland said. “Check, win faceoffs, steal pucks, score, pass. He can beat you in a lot of ways.”
The recent signing of Drew Miller leaves the Red Wings with four potential unrestricted free agents on July 5 -- forwards Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner, and defenseman Ian White, although White will not be brought back.
It’s likely at least one of the other three possible UFAs will not be back, either.
“We have some difficult decisions to make,” Holland said. “We have some kids (prospects in Grand Rapids) who are banging on the door. There is a push from below. I’ve had conversations with most of those agents. It all depends on the terms and cap numbers involved (with each player).”
And MLive's Ansar Khan...
Holland said he is continuing talks with impending unrestricted free-agent forwards Daniel Cleary, Damien Brunner and Valtteri Filppula, but roster space is scarce.
“We have big decisions to make,'' Holland said. “We got a push of kids. We got 14 forwards under contract now (including restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson). We'll only carry 14. We know we have compliance buyouts at our disposal. I'll explore trades.
“I'm talking to Cleary, Brunner, Filppula. If there's a term and number that works for us, we'll try to fit them in. If not, we'll go in a different direction. We like all these players, but sometimes if there's a better opportunity elsewhere a player's got to pursue it.''
Filppula's chances of returning appear slim. He was seeking more than $5 million per season but struggled during the regular season and the playoffs. Holland said defenseman Ian White was told he won't be re-signed, which was apparent long ago.
During TSN's Insider Trading segment, both Darren Dreger and Pierre LeBrun suggested that Filppula wants to land a career-defining contract at 29 years of age--something between $5-5.5 million over the course of 7 or 8 years--and there's no way that the Wings will give that to him.
Datsyuk himself told DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose that he's thrilled about remaining in Detroit, too, and that the rumors of his return to Russia were a wee bit exaggerated:
“I know where the rumors are coming from. Maybe he doesn’t like me coming here,” said Datsyuk, as he shopped in the Red Wings merchandise warehouse for gifts to take to family and friends in Russia. “I would be happy to play back home, but I know it’s better for me to stay here for my professional career. I am happy to be staying with a good family where I have had lots of fun and feel comfortable.”
Part of his decision to stay in Detroit – where he has played ever since he was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL draft – was to return to the core group of players with Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall and Jimmy Howard.
“This is big part, and I’m happy to stay with a good group,” said Datsyuk, who later this week will return to Russia, where for the sixth straight summer he will help run a youth hockey camp. “I see lots of optimism. If you don’t see optimism, maybe you die.”
A four-time NHL All-Star, Datsyuk is widely considered the game’s best two-way player in the world. A phenomenal stick-handler with incredible defensive instincts, he often makes opposing goaltenders look foolish with his magician-like highlight reel goals. During his 11 season career, Datsyuk has won the Selke Trophy, as the league’s best defensive forward, three times (2008-10), and the Lady Byng Trophy, for sportsmanship, four times (2006-09).
Datsyuk, who will turn 35 on July 20, already ranks among the Red Wings’ regular-season and playoff greats. He’s sixth in regular-season points (767) and sixth in assists (512), while he’s equally productive in the postseason, ranking sixth in assists (67), seventh in points (103), and 10th in goals (36).
Plenty of forwards have had productive NHL years into their 40s, including such former Red Wings’ notables as Gordie Howe (51), Igor Larionov (43) and Alex Delvecchio (41). All three Hockey Hall of Famers produced more than 40 points in each of their final full seasons. Datsyuk will be 38-years-old when his contract extension ends in 2017, but he said he’ll play as long as he remains healthy and can still contribute.
“If you recognize that those guys played a longtime ago and the game has changed,” he said. “Now you see (Teemu) Selanne, you see (Jaromir) Jagr. They all play and they play big roles on the team. This is the example. I don’t look at age. If you can keep up your level of play, why not play?”
The Free Press's Helene St. James posited a superb analysis of what Datsyuk's re-signing means for the Wings going forward, and she begins by recalling his NHL debut during the 2001-2002 season on the "Two Kids and a Goat" line with Brett Hull and Boyd Devereaux, though I can't quote her entire article:
Another Stanley Cup and nearly 800 games later, Datsyuk’s English still hasn’t caught up to his hockey skill, and he declined to make himself available to media after shaking hands on his new deal Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. It was the agreement that mattered, after all; it was Datsyuk’s way of showing he is committed to essentially finishing his career with the Wings, at least the NHL part of it. Like Steve Yzerman, like Nicklas Lidstrom and Tomas Holmstrom, like Zetterberg and Kronwall down the road, Datsyuk will be a Wing for life.
Holland’s work is far from done. There are budding negotiations with Damien Brunner and Daniel Cleary and Valtteri Filppula, all of whom the team would like back, though odds are highest on Brunner, lesser on Cleary and about zero on Filppula. In fact, look for Holland to trade Filppula’s rights by the end of the month.
That's definitely what will happen with Filppula: the Wings will probably snag a mid-round draft pick and nothing more, most likely acquiring the pick at or around the draft on June 30th.
There will be other movement up front, too, because already there are 12 forwards under contract for next season, and at some point, that will grow to include restricted free agents Gustav Nyquist and Joakim Andersson. There may be buyouts, though that’s tricky because in an obvious case like Mikael Samuelsson, he’s ineligible because he’s not healthy. Todd Bertuzzi had a tough season, but he came back and played at the end, and he’s big and goes to the net, all the more important as the Wings shift to the Eastern Conference. Plus, he’s one of their best shootout performers, and that can’t be discounted in today’s NHL.
St. James remains insistent that the roster crunch up front (see: Capgeek's Wings roster) should yield no attempts to sign an unrestricted free agent forward:
So, there are questions left up front, and to an extent on defense, though that area got a tremendous boost in late March when Danny DeKeyser joined the group. The Wings will see about adding a top-three defenseman, but nothing else. They don’t need any more depth defensemen. Under any circumstance, they finished fifth in the regular season with a 2.29 goals-against average, indicating something must have gone right besides good goaltending.
So we may see the same roster that made the playoffs, minus Filppula and White, plus Tatar, and possibly minus Cleary, Carlo Colaiacovo and/or Samuelsson, as the team's 2013-2014 opening night roster?
All of that will be worked out in time. It’s hard to overstate the importance of retaining Datsyuk’s services through four more years. Sure he’s going to straddle what’s considered middle aged in pro sports, but as Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr have proved, when one is that good, age really is just a number.
“The signing today was incredibly important to our team,” Holland said, “because how do you replace Pav? He’s on the level of Nicklas Lidstrom and Dominik Hasek and Steve Yzerman. There are very few players like that.”
That's the truth. Perhaps we'll see Datsyuk's #13 raised to the rafters when he's done playing.I certainly believe that we will.
As the vast majority of the Red Wings-related news this morning was covered in the entries about the Grand Rapids Griffins' capturing of their first Calder Cup championship, the related multimedia post and news about the Griffins' fan rally at Van Andel Arena at 6 PM on Wednesday.
I missed a pre-game interview Tomas Tatar gave to Sport.sk's Tomas Kubik, but it isn't particularly substantial;
As an FYI, if you don't receive the CBC and the Stanley Cup Final goes to Game 6, the Detroit News reports that WDIV won't air it:
Monday night’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, if necessary, will be on WADL TV 38 in the Detroit area, not on WDIV Channel 4.
WDIV, which is NBC’s Detroit affiliate, will televise local fireworks coverage instead of the game.
Boston leads the series over Chicago, 2-1. Game 4 is Wednesday and Game 5 is Saturday, and the series could be over on Saturday.
Monday’s Game 6, scheduled for an 8 p.m. start, also would be on Canada’s CBC if it is played.
Somewhat ironically, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose penned an article representing the first of a series of articles scouting the Wings' Eastern Conference and divisional opponents with a profile of...The Syracuse Crunch's parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning:
Goaltending and defense were once again the issues that kept the Lightning out of the playoffs for the second straight season. Veteran goalie Anders Lindback (10-10-1) wasn’t as good as the Lightning had hoped he would be after they acquired the 6-foot-6 Swede from Nashville last June, and defensively, they didn’t get the impact along the blue line, which they thought Sami Salo, Eric Brewer and Victor Hedman would give them.
Because of Lindback’s struggles, the Lightning traded for Ben Bishop from Ottawa and quickly signed the 6-foot-7 goalie to a two-year contract extension worth $4.6 million. By signing Bishop, the Lightning likely have the biggest goaltending duo in NHL history.
“The idea was to get (Bishop) signed, which was always our intention, so now we look to move into next season with both Ben and Anders Lindback,” general manager Steve Yzerman told the Lightning’s web site. “They are both relatively young, and they each have tremendous upside.”
Most of the Lightning’s key players are already locked up with 18 players currently under contract for next season, including defenseman Matt Carle, and forwards Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Carle and St. Louis are scheduled to make more than $5 million next season, while the salaries for Lecavalier and Stamkos are north of $7 million for each.
For the fourth straight season, St. Louis (60 points) and Stamkos (57 points) finished as the Lightning’s 1-2 scoring punch – which hasn’t always been in that order, while third-year player Teddy Purcell has been a solid contributor on the right wing, picking up 11 goals and 25 assists last year.
Like the Red Wings, the Lightning has talent waiting in the wings in AHL Syracuse, where the Crunch and the Grand Rapids Griffins have locked horns in the Calder Cup finals this month. It’s quite possible that forwards like Tyler Johnson, who was the AHL’s regular-season MVP as the league’s leading goal scorer and Ondrej Palat, who leads the AHL in the postseason points could be in Tampa Bay next season.
The Lightning has the No. 3 overall pick in this month’s NHL draft, which will take place on June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Whatever way Yzerman and his amateur scouts decide to go, the Lightning should end up with a quality forward with the likes of left wing Jonathan Drouin, center Aleksander Barkov, or right wing Valeri Nichushkin.
18. Detroit Red Wings
Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The Red Wings' system is fairly well-stocked with defensemen, but it is hard to pass when a talent like Pulock falls. Scouts seem to love his shot, and he plays the sort of two-way game with an offensive tint to it that Detroit loves. He also possesses a high hockey IQ, which is also looked upon fondly by Detroit's management. Although the Red Wings do not have any positions of great need at the draft, the team would relish the opportunity to add to their deep defensive group by drafting a player with excellent hockey sense and the puck skills to contribute to the team's possession numbers.
Who's the consensus pick? NOBODY. Thus almost every mock draft has the Wings picking a different player. I have absolutely no idea who they'll snag, though I'm a Mirco Mueller fan.
And finally, I'm still trying to raise $ for a trip to Traverse City to attend the Wings' summer development camp--which is a little over three-and-a-half weeks from now!
I would like to attend the Red Wings' summer development camp from July 9-17 in Traverse City, MI, but I am a blogger. My paycheck is not very big, and due to health crap, this is the only job I've got. As such, I do not have the funds to pay for gas to get me to Traverse City or 11 days of a hotel stay.
During previous years, I've asked you to lend a hand and you've come though in a big way. I need to ask, if it is at all possible, that you might consider tossing a few bucks into the Paypal tip jar. I've generally found that the smallest donations, $5, $10, stuff like that, end up paying for gas and a huge chunk of my stay, and anything more is a bonus.
So if you want to donate, that's awesome, if you don't want to donate, that's cool, and one way or another, I hope to get up there and provide you with in-person, every-day coverage.
My "ID" is my personal email address, email@example.com, and you'll need to use that as the person you're sending $ to.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.